By Tyler Urke
It wasn’t pretty, but the Western men’s basketball team escaped with a 66-56 win over University of Alaska Anchorage, Thursday, Feb. 15, at Sam Carver Gymnasium.
“The first half was very disjointed,” Western head coach Tony Dominguez said. “It’s just hard to play this style.”
The style Dominguez was referring to was the up-tempo offense and trapping defense of the Seawolves. What Alaska Anchorage (12-12, 8-9 GNAC) lacks in size, it makes up for in tenacity.
The Vikings faced that tenacity on the road Jan. 20 and came away with a 70-61 win. Western knew the formula for beating the Seawolves, and after a rough first half, the Vikings settled in and slowly picked apart their opponent.
“They were double-teaming a lot, so we just kind of keyed-in on that,” senior forward Deandre Dickson said. “We focused on where our guys are supposed to be when they double, and we were able to get a couple of shots off and ultimately seal the win.”
Western’s only breakthrough of the first half came in the last two minutes when it went on a 7-0 run to end the half leading 29-24. Junior guard Tyler Payne hit a transition 3 from the left wing to put the Vikings up 27-24, and Dickson followed it up with a floater that trickled through the net.
Dickson finished with a game-high 17 points and added seven rebounds. He had multiple put-back dunks, including one off his own missed layup.
“I usually go for the dunk when I feel like I’m going to blow a layup or catch the defense on their toes,” Dickson said. “With my height I’m probably going to be the first one to the ball.”
Western’s second leading scorer on the night was sophomore forward Daulton Hommes, as he finished with 14 points. Hommes said his teammates helped create space for him to do his damage.
“I think when the offense does a good job of swinging the ball and I have a side to work with,” Hommes said. “That’s when I’m more aggressive.”
Setting the tone for the night was a gnarly fall by junior forward Trevor Jasinsky in the first two minutes of the game. Jasinsky went up for a layup and landed awkwardly on his right ankle. Luckily for Western, after he was helped off the court, Jasinsky returned at the 13:13 mark of the first half.
With the win, Western (19-6, 14-3 GNAC) captured its fourth consecutive Great Northwest Athletic Conference win. The Vikings have already clinched a berth to the GNAC Championships in Anchorage, Alaska March 1-3.